Indian Opposition Has Pegasus Spyware Row on Agenda of Parliament's Budget Session

© AP Photo / Manish SwarupA statue of Mahatma Gandhi overlooks the Indian parliament building (File)
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi overlooks the Indian parliament building (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.01.2022
The Budget session of the Indian Parliament starts Monday is scheduled to last until 8 April. Its first segment will continue until 11 February and will be followed by a break from 12 February to 13 March for the standing committee to examine the budgetary allocations.
India's opposition parties are set to raise the most controversial issues, including the Pegasus snooping row, during the Budget Session 2022 of the Indian Parliament that kicks off on Monday.
Aside from the Israeli-made spyware, the opposition has the farmers' problems, India-China border conflict, sale of national carrier Air India, and distribution of COVID-19 relief packages, on the agenda.
The country's main opposition party Congress is set to table a privilege motion over the Pegasus spyware issue. The party's leader in the lower house (Lok Sabha) - Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury - has already given a notice to the speaker of the house about this matter.

"The government, on the floor of the House, always maintained that it had nothing to do with the Pegasus spyware and it never bought the spyware from NSO Group", Congress' Lok Sabha floor leader Chowdhury wrote to Speaker Om Birla on Sunday, alleging that "in light of the revelations…it appears that the [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi government has misled the parliament and the Supreme Court".

He cited affidavits submitted by the government in which the Modi government "unequivocally" denied "any and all of the allegations" concerning the Pegasus row.
The opposition is likely to come together over the Pegasus scandal, as Congress stated earlier that it would be reaching out to like-minded parties.
Media reports, citing sources, have stated that the Modi government is unlikely to agree to any specific discussion regarding the Pegasus spyware controversy and is expected to focus on getting its legislative business cleared in the session.
The Budget session only offers a 79.5-hour window for the government's legislative agenda and for taking up issues of immediate public concern over the scheduled 29 sittings of both houses of parliament.
Last week, The New York Times reasserted its claim that India's federal government struck a deal with Israel's NSO Group in 2017 to buy Pegasus software and used taxpayer money to purchase the military-grade spyware.
It was revealed that around 300 Indian politicians, activists, and others were being spied on through their phones.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has been tight-lipped about the Pegasus snooping scandal.
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